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In the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies (the Nova team included!). That means many of us in Cayman are heading into unchartered territory: remote working, full-time.

Even if working from home is part of your regular daily life, this feels a little different for a few key reasons: it is likely going to be for an extended period of time, your whole company is involved, and you can’t necessarily socialize in-person outside of work. Cue insanity. Or does it have to be?

Keep reading for Nova’s tried and tested tips for working from home to help you keep yourself productive and stop yourself going completely bonkers in the process.

1. Get Dressed for Remote Working

It might seem like a simple tip, but it’s a crucial one. Sure, you don’t have in-person client meetings currently, but getting dressed in something more than the pajamas you slept in the night before is so important.
The Nova team remote work regularly and can attest to how tempting it is to stay in pajamas all day, but if you succumb to the lazy monster in your head I can guarantee you that your day will be less productive overall.

Besides, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that nobody will see you, let’s face it we’re all about to have A LOT of video calls.

Remote working - virtual meetings

2. Designate a Remote Working Space or Home Office

One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. You need to set boundaries, both to ensure high productivity but to also keep yourself sane.

Even if you live somewhere small or busy and can’t have “an office,” at least mark off some sort of workstation or area for yourself. Turn off the television and try to get off the couch or your bed. Head to the same spot to work each day and leave it as well at the end of the workday. Train your brain that this area is where your job happens, and the rest of your house is where your life happens.

Pro tip: make sure there is natural light wherever you designate this workspace. You’re basically a houseplant with more complex emotions: drink water & get some sunlight.

3. Define Your Remote Working Schedule

With schools closed and kids at home now, it’s important to define your work schedule for yourself and your colleagues and set boundaries. Plus, if your role is collaborative, being on the same schedule as your team makes everything much easier.

If you live with other people, this separation is arguably even more critical than a separate space. Communicate with the people you live with to establish boundaries so you can cut down on distractions during the workday – this may mean locking yourself in your room and working out a schedule with your partner if you have little ones wreaking havoc around the house. Having a separate time and space to work will allow you to be more present in your home life after the workday ends.

4. Use Your “Commute” Time Wisely

Commutes aren’t such a long thing here in Cayman (unless you’re coming from East and get stuck in traffic every day, then my heart goes out to you) but it is still such an important part of your day as it gives your brain time to prepare for work. Do you normally listen to a specific podcast on the way to work? You can still do that now at home! Maybe integrate this while going for a small walk outside or a run (exercise is crucial too, but we won’t go into that here).

At the other end of the day, the evening commute does the reverse and gives your mind a chance to distance you from work and effectively hit the ‘reset’ button. When your scheduled work time is up, give yourself chance to do something to signal the end of the day – maybe walk your dog, go sit on the patio and watch the sunset or read a chapter of a book – moral of the story is to give yourself time to decompress.

5. Minimize Your Distractions

Distraction is one of the big challenges facing people who work from home—especially if you’re new to working from home game. We’d be lying if we didn’t say we all get distracted sometimes, the important thing is to be wary of how much you let yourself get distracted.

You take breaks when you’re at work, so you should take breaks when you’re remote working too. Just don’t take advantage of the freedom and take this as an opportunity to finally Marie Kondo your whole wardrobe (you should do that though, it is life-changing, just wait until your weekend).

The less time you spend falling down the rabbit hole of social media, the better and more productive you will be. Right now, one of the biggest distractions is the news as we’re all wanting to stay up to date on what is going on. We’re not telling you to stop this, it is so important to be informed especially now, just don’t scroll yourself into an anxious mess.

6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

If remote working is new to you, chances are this process is going to be just that: a process. The key to steering through this unchartered territory is communication—it will make or break this entire set up.
Email isn’t everything! When you were in the office working, chances are a lot of what you would communicate would be face-to-face, so instead of resorting to text-based communication, pick up the phone or hop on a video conference (trust us, they get less awkward the more you do them). This will cut down on miscommunication and break up some of the social isolation that can come from working from home.

7. Don’t Forget to Socialize Even When Remote Working

People forget they need to be around others because it’s the small talk and little moments in the office that stop that hamster-wheel feeling. When you’re remote working, you don’t have that.

Combat this by talking with your coworkers throughout the day! Nova uses Microsoft teams, which comes fully equipped with a library of cat gifs ready to lighten the mood. If you usually ask your coworkers about their thoughts on last night’s episode of Love is Blind, keep that up.

While you’re at it, don’t just check in with your team about the little things, really check in with them. When the world is freaking out like it is currently, it’s more important than ever that we reach out, connect, and take care of one another.

In the wise words of High-School Musical, “We’re all in this together.”

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